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Beyond Lewis and Clark: The Army Explores the West Paperback – August, 2003
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History books need indexes. The reader will especially miss the index that should have been included here since there is considerable overlap between the several elements of the narrative. In addition, Ronda becomes a bit of a name dropper in this book and it is difficult to keep the players straight.
People too often forget that the Lewis and Clark Expedition was a military mission. Ronda reminds us that the army was the nation's primary tool in exploring the west from the time the United States procured the Louisiana Purchase into the 1870s. The major player from 1838 until 1863 was the Army's Corps of Topographical Engineers, although the Army housed topographical engineering within its Corps of Engineers both before and after that period.
Ronda designates the Corp's officers as "soldier-scientists. " Most were West Point graduates. They combined military organization with scientific discipline. In general, the Corps leadership gave their field personnel broad objectives combining geography and natural history. Gathering knowledge about plants, animals, terrain, and even human inhabitants was considered a fundamental part of mapping and surveying potential travel routes.Read more ›